Nexsun purchases legacy plant

By Luke Geiver | January 04, 2010
Posted Feb. 4, 2010

Nexsun Corp., a renewable resource corporation, has purchased one of the original ethanol plants near Walsh, Colo. The plant, formerly Sun Energy and built in the 1980s, currently has a capacity of 3 MMgy, but according to Nexsun, may eventually double to 6 MMgy. Alex Park, vice president of project development with Nexsun commented on the condition of the idled plant. "I don't think they kept it up with the times."

The Walsh facility was previously purchased by Farm Credit through foreclosure but due to age and the lack of upgrades given to the site, the plant never met economical concerns, resulting in the idled status of the plant, according to Park. Now, after the purchase by Nexsun, the status of the plant may soon change. "We're in the process of doing an engineering evaluation and getting bids from engineers to upgrade the plant," Park said. "The plan is to get a couple of bids from an EPC (engineering, processing and construction) contractor by the end of this month and select a winner sometime next month. We'll start construction of the upgrade sometime in late February or early March, depending on weather."

Early summer is the current estimation for reopening the plant and the improvements will be done in two stages. The first stage will focus on updating and modernizing the plant, followed by expanding the production capacity. "When I say modernize, we want it to run as efficiently as possible to produce as much ethanol as possible per bushel of feedstock," he said. "We have to automate the plant, to put in processes that monitor it constantly with computers, instead of people turning knobs."

Initially the plant will employ 10 to 15 people, and with higher capacities move to 25 to 35 employees. The main feedstock for the plant will consist of grain sorghum.